Dogies Hike Mescal and Beyond

February 16, 2024


By Ernie Pratt

Looking up Boynton Canyon. Photo taken from the trail along Mescal Mountain.

In mid-January, the Dogies hiking group, part of the Sedona Westerners, headed for the hills in search of exercise, camaraderie, and scenic views. Despite some initial setbacks, we found all three of those things. Our hike was originally scheduled for Loy Canyon, but an earlier scout found the lower trail out there to be deeply covered in snow, and worse yet, the road was very muddy and slippery. The jeeps would love it, but SUV’s and electric cars beware. So our suddenly worried scouting party scrambled mentally and physically to find an alternate hike, settling on a patchwork, trail-ready adventure out of the Boynton Canyon Trailhead. This hike was chosen because at least half the trail was on slick rock and most of the trail was south facing with the snow rapidly melting. We called the hike Mescal and Beyond.

On hiking day we set out early hoping to get nearby trailhead parking and fewer crowds due to the frozen trail conditions. We were worried that a group our size on the soft and muddy trails could actually damage the trail. We were careful to do no harm. The path was frozen, but so were we, so we quickly hiked out of the mountain shade soon warming up under the newly risen sun led by Michael Henry and Ernie Pratt. The sky was clear, and the views were impressive. Mescal is a “go to area” for most of us, a familiar place where we bring our need-to-be-impressed visitors and new hikers. As we rounded Mescal and got on to the Long Canyon trail, we found the mud and residual snow softening up but fortunately still manageable.  

Mescal Mountain is of course not a mountain but is rather a small butte. By way of trivia, a butte is smaller than a mesa but bigger than a hoodoo. The Mescal butte is composed entirely of red-colored sandstone (surprise) consisting of the Bell Rock, a thin Fort Apache, and a little bit of the Sycamore members, all part of the Schnebly Hill formation. The Toroweap formation has been eroded. It is also home to the much publicized and visited “Birthing Cave” which daily results in a herd of phone-clutching visitors. From the top you would have excellent views of the Boynton vortex site and the Seven Canyons Golf course – though there were not any golfers that day.

We made our way to a very nice lunch spot on the sun-warmed red rocks and shared our trail stories. The same old stories just retold again and again. It is a blessing that we can still remember the stories to tell - we just forget that we have told them to all before. Some of the group took their space finding a special rock away from the pack - for meditating, centering on the awesome surroundings. 

There was much to explore after our break. Onward we went carefully down a series of difficult descents. Meandering animal paths and tracks off to the side made us wonder why path-making Javelinas don’t walk in a straight line.

Our hike ended up at one of the famous Sedona Vortex sites where we relaxed on the knoll surrounded by very twisted juniper trees. This site is unusual in that the energy here strengthens both masculine/feminine or yin/yang balance, perfect for our mixed group of hikers. The site was thankfully, and unusually, deserted so we did not have to share the energy, no brownouts, or blackouts. Now fully charged we fairly floated down the hill, auras blazing, past startled but envious tourists. It was a good day!

The Sedona Westerners have scheduled hikes every week from September to May for just about every ability. The cost to join is only $30 a year, and all are welcome… even short-term visitors to the region. Our website, www.sedonawesterners.org, has all the hikes listed, our history, and a handy signup link. We invite you to start your adventures in the Red Rocks with us today.

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